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NIH Director Steps Down, Says ‘No Single Person’ Should Hold The Position Too Long

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Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Dr. Francis S. Collins announced Tuesday he is stepping down at the end of the year.

“It has been an incredible privilege to lead this great agency for more than a decade,” Collins said in a statement. “I love this agency and its people so deeply that the decision to step down was a difficult one, done in close counsel with my wife, Diane Baker, and my family.”

“I fundamentally believe, however, that no single person should serve in the position too long, and that it’s time to bring in a new scientists to lead the NIH into the future,” he continued.

Collins was appointed by former President Barack Obama in 2009 and was asked to continue his role by both former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden. (RELATED: Two Top Vaccine Officials Resign From FDA Amid Political Pressure From Biden Administration)

Collins told The Washington Post his decision to leave the NIH was because he believes research into coronavirus vaccines, therapeutics and tests was in “a pretty stable place.”

“There comes a time where an institution like NIH really benefits from new vision, new leadership,” Collins reportedly said. “This was the right timing.”

Collins will continue to research at the National Human Genome Research Institute, a part of the NIH. Collins served as the director of Human Genome Research Center from 1993 until 2008, where he led an effort to sequence the human genome code.

It is unclear who will be tapped to replace Collins in the interim, as Biden must appoint someone who will then be confirmed by the Senate.

While known for openly professing his Christian faith, Collins has been known as “apolitical,” Chairman of the Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics at Michigan State University Victor DiRita told NPR.

“He’s been a strong leader. He’s gotten the resources needed to make the NIH the envy of the world to lead in certain scientific areas, without question,” DiRita reportedly said. “He also is a very spiritual person. He’s not afraid or shy about showing all the aspects of his humanness. I think that’s really valuable. And it’s a special thing about Francis Collins.”